Postcards from Abroad: Lund, Sweden

Lund University’s Arrival Day took place on August 21st. To me, this was hugely significant. My first thought was, “who starts college that early”? I felt robbed of my summer holidays. I straight away came to the conclusion that Sweden must be the most organised, efficient and enthusiastic country in the world.My first introduction to Lund University was when I stepped through the arrival gate at Copenhagen airport. Standing in front of me was a Lund student mentor, one of many scattered around the airport. In true Swedish style, they were helpful and enthusiastic. They showed us where to go and what to expect once we arrived in Lund. By the time I had reached the train I was already friends with all the other Irish students, it seems we always have a way of finding one another.Within moments of being in Lund, I soon realised why this student town is so desirable. Clean, charming and compact makes it a number one choice for not only Swedes but for students from all around the world. I made my way around the registration and after picking up the keys to my room I was more than ready to get rid of my two over weight suitcases. However, one fundamental thing was still to be done; I needed to buy my bed sheets and pillows. After being told I could buy them from Lund University on arrival day, I was confident I’d have a well deserved rest that night. However, when I reached the stall there were no bedsheets or pillows left for sale. No bedsheets or pillows? They’re all sold out? Hang on Sweden, that’s not very organised is it? In that moment I realised that maybe this place wasn’t exactly what I had written it off as.My first night’s sleep was possibly one of the most uncomfortable I have ever experienced. Towels and jumpers are not very good substitutes for bed linen. Although I may not have been revived and rejuvenated for my day ahead, I was ready to sort out some fundamentals: food, phone and the ever-absent bed sheets. I eagerly signed up to an Ikea tour and sourced my nearest supermarket which is luckily right down the road from where I live. Lastly, I got a new Swedish phone, one that I thought would no doubt makes all smartphone users jealous. I of course quickly grasped that one should never expect too much from a phone that costs under €20.Since my first few stressful and scattered days, I have seen what Lund has to offer. The university itself is spread across the whole town. Although everything is extremely close most students travel around by bike. I on the other hand have decided walking will suit me just fine. The idea of cycling in the snow or even worse, cycling home from a night out is not only a safety hazard for myself but for everybody around me. Also, most of my classes are in the one building.The classes that I am taking have so far been very different to those at home. Despite the fact I am a English and Art History joint major, I am studying a broad range of humanity courses in Lund. My classes are with other Erasmus students which is great as I don't have to continuously fail at speaking the Swedish language.As of yet, one of the biggest difference I have noticed with Lund and UCD is probably the nightlife. As it is a small town there are not any clubs, per se. Instead ‘Nations’ host nights out in their own buildings. Nations are half societies, half fraternities. Everybody joins a nation and gets involved in their activities and nightlife. There are over ten nations in Lund and once you are a member of one you can get involved in all of them. Queuing to get into a nation club starts a lot earlier than Dublin, usually around ten. The off license also closes a lot earlier, at six. So, for all those who complain about Irish off licenses closing at ten you should come to Lund. Making it to one of the only two off licenses in Lund before six is now the norm. In fact, ten o’clock would now seem positively late for me to buy alcohol.My initial stereotyping of Lund and Sweden itself as being an organised, efficient and enthusiastic place has certainly been lived up to in these first few weeks. Trips and activities are constantly being arranged for all Erasmus students. Because of this I have attempted a 30 km hike of the Skane region and tried my hand at indoor hockey. Although it could be argued that I failed miserably at both I am enjoying what this quaint and beautiful university town has to offer.In fact, although Lund might not be as bustling as Paris, as distant as Sydney or as exotic as Singapore, at the moment it feels good to call it home.